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Dive Review of Murex/Serenade in
Indonesia/North Sulawesi

Murex/Serenade, Dec, 2004,

by David Haupt, KY, USA . Report 1512.

No photos available at this time

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 3 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving 3 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments We were met at the airport by reps. of Murex and loaded up into 2 minivans. I jumped up
front and away we went. I am a fairly aggressive driver (although I am mellowing out in
my old age) and I was literally scared stiff. Two lane roads are really three lanes here
because a lot of drivers pass in the center……even if there is on-coming vehicles!! Why
there is not a wreck every 15 minutes is beyond me!! We were unloaded at the resort,
given a welcome drink, fed supper, filled out the mandatory paperwork and loaded onto
the boat.

If you are looking for Aggressor style pampering, you will be very disappointed on this
boat! If you want excellent yet economical diving with great food……you have found it!
The Serenade is old; has no ice, only cold water and the rooms are small & dank.
However, the rooms are air conditioned (after supper – until morning), and the beds are
decent. Nitrox is advertised but there is no fill station on-board. If you desire Nitrox, they
shuttle it from one of their 3 resorts to the boat. No one dove it on this trip. The food was
quite tasty and plentiful! Breakfast included such things as pancakes, rice with vegetables
& meat and eggs. Lunch & supper usually included one fish dish and one chicken dish,
rice, vegetables, potatoes and awesome soups. One entrée per meal had a little zing
(spicy) to it. Dessert alternated between pineapple, watermelon and mango. $1,470 for
8½ days of diving is a steal, but you have to want to dive and don’t mind rustic
conditions. Couple this with $1,300 airfare and it is a bargain for sure. With 13 of us on
-board, and 11 with cameras, it really never felt any more crowded than any other live
-aboard I have been on. 12 of the divers were experienced divers with previous live
-aboard experience, so the etiquette required for such conditions was inherent. The crew
was extremely helpful & friendly and the guides were awesome! Entry was by either a
giant stride off the back of the boat or a backroll from one of the Zodiacs. Most of the
time we were picked up by the Zodiacs. My biggest complaint about the boat is that most
of the surfaces are painted metal and very slick once they are even slightly wet. We had 3
falls during our trip and I broke my little toe in one of the mishaps! A little sand mixed in
with the paint would help.

The boat headed to Bangka while we slept. We woke up the next morning; ate cake,
bananas and drank some coffee. A dive briefing was given, we suited up and hit the
water. I have never seen color like this! Soft corals….hard corals…..and more different
fish than I have ever seen on one dive site. We spent 2 days at Bangka then slipped off to
Lembeh in the night. 5 dive days in Lembeh with the same routine: cake, bananas,
coffee and tea followed by a 7:00 AM dive. Eat breakfast after the first dive, dive again!
Spend your next SI eating lunch, then dive again. The night dive commenced around 6:30
PM followed by supper. All totaled, 4 dives per day were offered including the night
dive. After the 5 days in Lembeh, we steamed back to Bangka for the final 1 ½ days of

The diving in Bangka is slopes covered in VERY healthy soft & hard corals with a
plethora of multi-colored fish, shrimp, crabs, shrimp and Nudibranchs. The diving in
Lembeh was the legendary muck diving. We saw 3 different colors of Seahorses (in ONE
dive), 3 different colors of Pygmy Seahorses, Star Gazer (I missed that one), Octopi, 2
Wonderpi (?), various shrimps, various crabs and more Frogfish and Nudi’s than I can
remember (it’s hell getting old). Every briefing in Lembeh was the same; sandy slope
with a maximum depth of 30 meters…………Frogfish, Pygmy Seahorses and maybe a
Ghost Pipefish!

One day we opted to do an evening land tour to see the monkeys. We lathered up with
Deets products and rode the Zodiacs to shore. The guide led us through the jungle and
would stop every so often, listen, and say 100 more meters. After hearing this about 6
times, we finally find where they were up in the treetops. The guide informed us that they
would not sleep in these trees. They prefer to bed down in much larger trees and if we
waited, they would come down. We waited & waited. Then as if on cue, they all (30 - 50)
quickly scaled down the trees and ran off. So many of them plopped down it was as if it
were “raining” monkeys! It was well worth the hike & wait.

Once the 8 ½ days of diving were completed, we were dropped off at a new resort named
Kima Bajo Resort & Spa. This Resort is not “officially” open yet (it should be in 3-4
weeks) but has entertained some guests. One of the Organizer’s of our trip is friends with
the owner and made the arrangements. The on-site dive operator is Odyessea Divers.
They have 3 nice dive boats, new Scubapro rental gear and an awesome camera room
With lockable storage. It is a very short boat ride to Bunaken from here. A couple from
our group dove with them and said Bunaken was awesome. Most chilled out around the
Resort. Between my broken toe and flooded strobe (last boat dive, last day), I elected to
chill out.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Most of the Caribbean, Kona
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp 82-84°F / 28-29°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 15-100 Ft/ 5-30 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions 500 PSI
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 5 stars Large Fish 1 stars
Large Pelagics 1 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments No dedicated camera table. Decent rinse tanks. Electricity for charging was adequate.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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